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Tissue Expansion

The tissue expansion procedure is one of the most natural ways to replace lost or damaged skin. It is commonly used in breast reconstruction. Tissue expansion is also an excellent treatment for skin in other areas of the body. It creates new skin that perfectly matches surrounding skin and can contain hair follicles.

The process involves the implantation of a saline expander near the area that requires new skin. The expander is slowly filled with saline, and the body creates new skin over it. Once enough skin has been created, the expander is removed. The new skin is stretched over the treatment area, and the skin is attached.

When to Consider Tissue Expansion

Ideal candidates are otherwise healthy individuals who require new skin for reconstruction. Some of the benefits of tissue expansion include:

  • Perfect skin color match to surrounding skin
  • Much lower chance of skin loss, as new skin retains its blood supply
  • Less noticeable scarring
  • Ability of new skin to grow hair, a particularly useful trait for scalp treatments

You may wish to quit smoking for improved healing after the procedure. Your initial consultation with Dr. Mosiello will cover other ways to improve your outcome.


What are the steps of tissue expansion?

Intravenous sedation or general anesthetic may be given for your comfort during the procedure. A small, inconspicuous incision is made near the treatment area. The expander is then introduced through the incision. It is positioned in the area of expansion and partially filled with saline.

The filling valve of the expander is left very close to the surface of the skin. Once in place, the incision is closed with fine sutures for minimal scarring. Repeat visits are required periodically to inject more saline and stretch the skin further.

Once enough skin has been created, another surgery is done to remove the expander. The new skin is stretched over the treatment area and stitched together.

How long is recovery following the procedure?

The first surgery is slightly less intensive than the second surgery. However, both require bandaging and may cause some swelling and bruising. Stitches can be removed within a week in both cases.

You may resume normal activities within 2-4 days of the first surgery. After the second surgery, normal activities may be resumed in 5-8 days, but a full recovery may take 4-10 weeks. The details of the recovery will vary with each procedure. This is based on the extent and the location of the treatment area.

Will there be scarring from tissue expansion?

Scarring may vary based on the location and size of the treatment area. Incisions will be made in natural body lines to keep them minimally visible. Fine sutures are used for the faintest incision lines, which will fade for up to 12 months.

How will I feel after the procedure?

There may be some discomfort following the initial and final surgery. There may be less discomfort after each new saline injection. This discomfort may be managed with the use of prescription medications.

Are there any possible complications of tissue expansion?

A full discussion of potential complications will occur during your consultation. One complication of this procedure is partial or total loss of the expanded tissue. Others include leakage of the expander, or unfavorable final skin appearance. There is also the chance of poor wound healing, decreased sensation, bleeding and infection.

Learn More About Tissue Expansion in Tampa

For more information about tissue expansion, or to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Mosiello, call our office at 813-631-1500. The location of our Tampa Palms cosmetic surgery location is in New Tampa, near Wesley Chapel.